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Welcome to the real world

india Updated: Mar 06, 2009 13:14 IST

Money is fascinating. So is reality. Together, they make for a powerful winner. Like

Kaun Banega Crorepati




Reality shows, whether about money or fame, largely do well. Nandini Dias, chief operating officer of media agency Lodestar Universal, said: “The reality genre is at the top on television today. Such shows can be almost pivotal for a channel during a quarter.”

Television programming has undergone many changes since the advent of satellite channels in 1992. Over the years, it has transformed from 100 per cent fiction to a generous dose of reality in the mix.

While KBC changed the fortunes of Star Plus and Amitabh Bachchan, Indian Idol was a big draw for Sony. No wonder no entertainment channel risks ignoring this format.

Based on aMap data from Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd, Bigg Boss 2, aired on Colors in the second half of 2008, launched to viewership ratings of 1.5 per cent (implying that 1.5 per cent of all cable and satellite TV audiences, over four years of age, watched the show) and climbed to 2 per cent on the day the favourite, Rahul Mahajan, opted for a voluntary exit. It touched a peak of 2.8 per cent for the finale.

Unless very successful, most soaps record ratings of below 1 per cent.

Indian Idol 4 did fairly well. It registered 2.4 per cent ratings on its opening and sustained its performance throughout. The Great Indian Laughter Challenge 4 on Star One, another long running show, occasionally achieves good ratings of around 1.8 per cent. On Star Plus, Nach Baliye 4 and Star Voice of India got ratings of 2.5 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively on their launch episodes.

The long-running big daddy of singing contests, Zee’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, which started in July 2008 and closed in January 2009 in the latest run, mostly sustained high viewership of over 1 per cent at the lower end and a big 5.2 per cent on its close.

Dias pointed out: “The week after Sa Re Ga Ma Pa closed, Zee saw a dip in gross rating points — that’s how important such shows are for the channels.” Advertisers don’t mind paying a premium, especially for proven reality shows. Dias said reality show advertisers pay almost a 100 per cent premium over normal soaps per 10 seconds of advertising.

“The total advertising revenue that television attracts is in excess of Rs 7,000 crore,” said Sunil Lulla, director, Real Global Broadcasting. “Reality-based programming would attract revenues of over Rs 500 crore,” said Chandradeep Mitra, an independent media consultant.

Joy Chakraborthy, chief revenue officer, Zee Entertainment, said, “For Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2009, we charged Rs 2-2.5 lakh per 10 seconds, whereas for normal soaps the rate is between Rs 75,000 and Rs 1.25 lakh. We pre-sold 80 per cent of our Sa Re… inventory, leaving just 20 per cent for spot buys.” The latter would have come at a still higher premium.

While industry folks caution that the novelty of this genre may soon erode, Chakraborthy maintained that for now GECs mostly maintain a 80:20 ratio of soaps:reality shows.